LIKE IT LIKE THAT
On a recent plane ride, as I was taking out my favorite gadgets for the flight, it hit me that there are some products that provide almost as much a thrill in using and handling, as an Apple product. The notion was triggered by taking out my Bose QC-3 headphones for the 5-hour flight.
The thing is encased in it's own, compact zippered case, with it's few components all laid out in their own little compartments. Also, as I walked up and down the aisles, I noticed almost as many folks using Bose headsets, as there were iPods on the plane.
This got me thinking of an on-going list of products that one can consider as "Apple-like". Products that give the user as much satisfaction, visceral and otherwise, as any popular Apple product. To paraphrase that popular saying about defining porn, one may not be able to precisely define an "Apple-like" experience, but we know it when see and feel it.
One condition for this "Apple-like" list, is that their key product/s must be an elegant combination of hardware and software.
This is not to say there aren't software only products and/or online services that provide an Apple-like experience (Google Maps and Gmail come to mind).
Nor can it be a company that provides an elegantly designed hardware product, like Monster's compact travel power-strip that I wrote about a while back.
For the purposes of this "Apple-Like" list, we'll stay with companies that uniquely combines hardware and software, in either a key product, or a family or products. And of course, provides a "Thriller" experience.
So to kick off the list, I'll start off with,
1. The Bose family of products of course. Whether it's their headphones, or any of their various music systems, Bose seems to generally provide an "Apple-like" product experience. I've been a long-time fan of their music systems, like the Soundock, I use the guest bedrooms at the house.
2. Sonos is another company that in my book qualifies as an "Apple-like" product experience. I've talked about their Sonos home music systems before, as has Fred Wilson, who particularly enjoys his Sonos system with Real network's Rhapsody music subscription service.
3. Segway would be another company I'd nominate for an "Apple-like" qualification. Their products are not mainstream yet, and at $5,000 plus a pop, not easily accessible. But if you haven't tried out a Segway, I'd encourage you to check it out at a Segway dealer.
The sheer experience of gliding along with almost not physical effort, is worth the time to check it out. Again, their products provide a "magical", "Apple-like" experience, via an utterly innovative combination of hardware and software.
4. Research in Motion (aka RIMM), the makers of the Blackberry devices, has really pumped up their ability to provide an "Apple-like" thrilling product experience, especially with it's "Pearl" family of devices, with their integrated track-balls. Again, these are products I've raved about before. Speaking of cool software touches, I've long loved the way a double tap on a Blackberry space bar gives you a period, something that the iPhone would do well to "emulate".
5. Jawbone, a relative new-comer, has one of the best blue-tooth headsets I've used (and sometimes I feel like I've used them all). The product combines it's "Noise-shield" software, in a hardware design aesthetic, that makes you do a double-take when you see it. Although it doesn't have a body of products yet, the first product is "thrilling" enough to qualify for an "Apple-like" rating.
This list of five is but a start, so much so, that I'm establishing an "Apple-like" category, to use on future posts featuring cool gadgets that aspire to the Apple aesthetic. Also, would be very curious to hear what products you'd nominate for an "Apple-like" qualification. Thanks.